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Suit challenges Mississippi mayor's open gun ban amid virus

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A Republican state lawmaker is suing over a Democratic mayor’s temporary ban on openly carrying guns in Mississippi’s capital city during part of the coronavirus pandemic.

Posted: Apr 28, 2020 3:42 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Republican state lawmaker filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging a Democratic mayor's temporary ban on the open carry of guns in Mississippi's capital city during part of the coronavirus pandemic.

The city of Jackson and Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba “exploited the present public health crisis" to limit people's Second Amendment right to carry firearms for self-defense, says the federal lawsuit by state Rep. Dana Criswell of Olive Branch.

Lumumba signed an executive order Saturday banning the open carry of guns in Jackson during the final days of his coronavirus stay-at-home order for the city. The stay-at-home order expires Thursday. Lumumba said in a video that two children in Jackson were killed within a week “due to senseless gun violence,” and Mississippi's lax gun laws contributed to the problem.

“For too long, gun violence has plagued our city and disproportionately affected black and brown communities here in Jackson and nationwide,” said Lumumba, who is African American and leads a majority-black city.

Criswell, who is white and lives about 200 miles (322 kilometers) north of Jackson, does not mention race in the lawsuit. He is a licensed firearms dealer, according to the suit. Criswell said in a statement Tuesday: "The mayor’s attempt to disarm me and deny me the ability of self-defense puts me and my family in danger anytime we are in Jackson.”

Criswell is represented by the Mississippi Justice Institute, which is affiliated with a group that challenges many government regulations. Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, a Republican, said in a letter to Lumumba on Sunday that people may openly carry guns in all parts of the state.

The dispute over the Jackson gun order follows other court challenges over constitutional rights during the COVID-19 pandemic. U.S. Attorney General William Barr intervened this month on behalf of a church in Greenville, Mississippi, that sued over that city's order that limited drive-in worship services. Greenville altered its order to allow such services if people keep their windows rolled up.

The state Health Department said Tuesday that Mississippi had at least 6,342 confirmed cases and 239 deaths from the coronavirus as of Monday evening. That was an increase of 248 cases and 10 deaths from the previous day. The state’s population is about 3 million.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.

The Health Department said Tuesday at least 721 coronavirus cases had been confirmed by Monday at long-term care facilities such as nursing homes. It also said at least 64,412 coronavirus tests had been done in Mississippi as of Monday.

Mississippi is under a “safer at home” order issued by Republican Gov. Tate Reeves. It requires medically vulnerable people to remain at home and bans gatherings of 10 or more people. It also allows some businesses to reopen with limits on how many customers may be present, and it allows physicians to start offering some services that had been limited in recent weeks. Restaurants are still limited to carry-out or delivery.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 314509

Reported Deaths: 7247
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21626259
Hinds20359415
Harrison17934309
Rankin13634278
Jackson13447246
Madison10099217
Lee9980174
Jones8381163
Forrest7683152
Lauderdale7191241
Lowndes6401147
Lamar623086
Lafayette6200118
Washington5339134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462798
Panola4588107
Pearl River4512146
Marshall4443103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420772
Monroe4113133
Union411076
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3968110
Hancock379386
Leflore3497125
Sunflower336090
Tate334084
Pike3325105
Scott315973
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311669
Itawamba300477
Copiah297065
Coahoma295479
Simpson295288
Tippah288768
Adams286882
Prentiss279760
Marion269280
Leake268373
Wayne262641
Grenada261487
Covington259681
George248048
Newton246861
Winston227281
Tishomingo226967
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw207857
Holmes189173
Clay185454
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178841
Clarke178080
Calhoun170832
Yalobusha164338
Smith162434
Walthall133945
Greene130633
Lawrence128624
Montgomery126942
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton99525
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83823
Quitman80916
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67331
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 532895

Reported Deaths: 11001
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson771431528
Mobile41089808
Madison34837505
Tuscaloosa25810454
Montgomery24355588
Shelby23730249
Baldwin21191309
Lee15892171
Calhoun14522316
Morgan14324279
Etowah13861353
Marshall12250223
Houston10581281
Elmore10060205
Limestone9986151
Cullman9705194
St. Clair9702243
Lauderdale9441242
DeKalb8846187
Talladega8255176
Walker7246277
Autauga6938108
Jackson6815112
Blount6694137
Colbert6310134
Coffee5524119
Dale4850111
Russell443238
Chilton4308112
Franklin426282
Covington4136118
Tallapoosa4039152
Escambia393977
Chambers3578123
Dallas3557152
Clarke351161
Marion3130101
Pike311377
Lawrence300798
Winston275673
Bibb261564
Geneva251477
Marengo249664
Pickens234761
Barbour231756
Hale223277
Butler216469
Fayette212562
Henry189044
Cherokee184745
Randolph181742
Monroe178040
Washington167639
Macon159950
Clay156857
Crenshaw152757
Cleburne149141
Lamar142935
Lowndes139053
Wilcox127130
Bullock122841
Conecuh110629
Coosa107928
Perry107826
Sumter104832
Greene92534
Choctaw61124
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Skies remain clear as we wrap up the work week, which will lead us into an excellent weekend in terms of weather. Low humidity will keep temperatures cool or chilly in the mornings and much warmer each afternoon. Humidity gradually returns later in the weekend and early next week.
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